SUNY Cortland student Pres. gives $5,000 stipend to charity

The following is a republished press release and not an article written by The Cortland Voice … to submit a community announcement, email Peter Blanchard at [email protected].

CORTLAND, N.Y. — Patrick Viscome has memories of hiking in the Adirondacks with his father as a young boy, particularly of a sign that stood out on their climbs up Mount Marcy.

Leave the woods better than you found them, the sign urged.

“I tried to make that my personal philosophy,” said Viscome, SUNY Cortland’s Student Government Association (SGA) president. “When I came to Cortland, I wanted to leave it better than when I came in freshman year.”

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His position as SGA president means that he devotes the bulk of his week to fellow students — attending events across campus, keeping regular office hours in Corey Union and simply making himself available when classmates need him. In exchange for countless hours of his time and everyday availability, he receives a $5,000 president’s stipend.

Patrick Viscome

Patrick Viscome

But Viscome, a business economics major, doesn’t spend any of it on himself.

“I take out 10 percent for taxes and choose to give the rest away,” he said matter-of-factly, as if he never thought twice about it.

This past winter, he purchased $500 worth of coats, hats and blankets during a single trip to Walmart, then made a special delivery to the local Cortland YWCA. He supports the agency’s Bridges for Kids program. He also gives a portion of it back to the College, supporting the Performing Arts Department and The Cortland Fund in the spirit of philanthropy.

“The money was extra, so I thought it would be superfluous to spend it on myself,” he said.

Viscome works part-time as an assistant supervisor for dining services in Neubig Hall and lives in the Judson H. Taylor Leadership House on campus. Not surprisingly, he’s earned several scholarships for his leadership and community service. Yet, during a time when some corporate CEOs and top professional athletes are seeking higher salaries, the Hartsdale, N.Y., native believes he has enough to get by.

That’s why Viscome thinks first of other people. He encourages his classmates to give back too, although not with their dollars if they can’t afford to part with them.

“I think it’s hard for most students to give their money, so I encourage them to give back their time and energy,” he said.

The Student Philanthropy Council’s month-long celebration of National Student Engagement and Philanthropy Month will attempt to do the same. Every Wednesday in February, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Curry ’52 Main Lobby of Brockway Hall, a different event will be held as a way of thanking the College’s many supporters and educating students on the impact of giving. A full list of events appears below.

During his sophomore year, Viscome served as a teaching assistant for a course titled “Health of the Underserved.” It meant overseeing community service projects for 80 students that required 10 hours of volunteer work from each one.

“I got to see the need,” said Viscome, who started as a community health major at the College but changed his course after a hospital administrator spoke to one of his classes. “But eventually, I realized I liked the business aspect more than the health side of it.”

Even with his extracurricular commitments — he joined four clubs his sophomore year before diving into student government — Viscome would be able to graduate on time this spring as an honors program participant. But he wants more training in mathematics and computer applications. He plans to spend next year taking extra courses in those disciplines, with the ultimate goal of earning a master’s degree in finance from one of the nation’s top programs.

Viscome’s reason for pursuing a career in equity research and financial modeling isn’t the paycheck, but rather his mind’s curiosity for those topics, he said.

Of course, if Viscome does wind up working on Wall Street or with a hedge fund in Stamford, Conn., with a financial capacity to give back, he said he’ll always do it with the goal of supporting more students like himself, the ones who come to SUNY Cortland with the intention of leaving a lasting legacy on campus.

“When I give back, I like to think of the human element — the people who will benefit,” he said.

National Student Engagement and Philanthropy Month events

  • Wednesday, Feb. 3: The date marks 100 days until the Class of 2016 graduates, and members will be able to contribute to their Senior Class Gift. All contributors receive a commemorative pin to wear at Commencement. Free coffee and hot chocolate also will be served.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 10: Students will be encouraged to write thank-you cards to SUNY Cortland’s loyal supporters. Every person who contributes a hand-written note will be receive an entry for a special raffle prize.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 17: Special activities and games with prizes will educate students on the impact of student scholarships.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 24: Students will be encouraged to write thank-you notes for the College’s faculty and staff member donors.

All events take place noon to 2 p.m. in the Curry ’52 Main Lobby of Brockway Hall.

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